INC Public Safety/Education Committees
April 27, 2016, 6 PM
Denver Police Department District 3 Station – 1625 S. University
Present: Merce Moore, Rae Reynolds, George Mayl, J.J. Nieman, Meg Schomp,
David DiGiacomo, Denver Public Works
Philip Epple, Denver Police Department
David DiGiacomo of Denver Public Works presented about what role Public Works plays with respect to schools and roadway safety, answering both general questions and school roadway issues. Denver committed to VISION ZERO in February of this year, a Public Works action plan to eliminate crashes on roadways, with the goal to reduce and hopefully eliminate traffic-related fatalities. The program received a one-time $750,000 budget for 2016 to initially develop this plan. Of these funds, $400,000 has been set aside for intersection safety infrastructure, $200,000 for marketing and public education, and $150,000 to hire consultants to develop the comprehensive plan. A request for a 2017 budget is being prepared now to continue the program. A Boston and Portland-based consulting team has set-up a satellite office in Denver which will track plated vehicles, only. Neither bikes nor pedestrians will be tracked at this point. Funds are now being primarily used for Education, Infrastructure and
Coordination. DiGiacomo also indicated that coordination with departments, such as safety audit with Denver Environmental Health is an important aspect of this program, in addition to important work together with Denver Public Schools (DPS) Transportation and Safety department.
Rae Reynolds, representing Hilltop/CBHD Transportation, introduced further conversation about how increased development in Denver is going to impact public roadway safety, and concerns that the city realistically anticipates how this is affecting safety. In the Hilltop neighborhood, for instance, there are no sidewalks in many parts of the neighborhood, including along busy arterial streets. Additionally, some of these busy streets have lights between blocks, with no crosswalk to help assure pedestrian-safe passages where there are no sidewalks (East Sixth Avenue between Colorado Boulevard and Quebec, for instance). Mr. DiGiacomo was familiar with this problem, how it affects the schools in these areas, and said that Justin Smits in Traffic Dept. has been working to develop safe pedestrian corridors. These corridors might look similar to designated bicycle lanes, but for pedestrians. Several people voiced concerns that these designated areas be separated by a barrier to prevent young children walking to school from walking into the path of traffic.
In a related discussion of safe street crossings, George Mayl, representative from Cory-Merrill RNO, told the committee about what has been installed (reintroduced from Denver’s past) as an effective crossing for pedestrians at Steele and Florida, adjoining this Campus. Barnes Dance, is a pedestrian crossing system that stops all vehicular traffic and allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time. This crosswalk is active during the hours before and after school (7-9 AM and 2-4 PM). This kind of crossing may be more familiar to Denver as diagonal crossings, which used to be used more frequently prior to 2011. DiGiacomo indicated that there are a few other locations throughout the city that also utilize these types of crossings during the daylight hours, and rest when it’s dark outside. These signals are at Federal Blvd, between Hampden and Dartmouth, and a couple at Martin Luther King Blvd and Fulton St. which the city maintains. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has also installed one of these at 6th Ave. and Union Blvd. Timing of these is based on walk time which is timed for 85% of the population. Each location costs $30,000, which limits the number of these crosswalks being installed at other schools or high pedestrian traffic locations. Other alternatives were discussed, including involving bordering neighborhood groups’ involvement in coordinating efforts to bring solutions to areas affected by high pedestrian traffic.
DiGiacomo also state that federal dollars have been granted (from Air Quality Standards funds) to the region which are administered through Denver Council of Regional governments (DRCOG) to collect travel time studies, traffic modeling and travel patterns which come out of these impact studies. Retiming of lights occurs every 5 years using this information to determine the needs.
Philip Epple, from DPD, discussed the police department’s role in maintaining a safe environment for students and the surrounding neighborhoods in school zones. When residents encounter problems with vehicles blocking, parking or disrupting safe traffic flow, the best path to take is to contact the principal of the school. The DPD can more effectively manage and respond to complaints through this streamlined process. Complaints are then referred to Community Resource Officers. There are a limited 6 traffic officers who cover responding to these situations throughout the district, with the first priority being to responding to accidents, followed by safety and complaints. You may also contact Denver County’s non-emergency services link by dialing the “311” Help Center to more easily connect citizens to city services. Signal timing issues surrounding schools are often a significant concern to neighborhoods, and any school-related requests must be initiated by the principal. This request is then directed to the city’s engineering department. One solution that has proved to be more effective in increasing pedestrian safety in crosswalks with traffic lights is the practice of a “leading pedestrian advanced interval,” which allows them to cross in advance of cars being signaled to proceed through an intersection. To find further information about your neighborhood’s current traffic information, you may visit their website to navigate their Data Dashboard at https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-department-of-public-works/about-us.html.
Following these topics of discussion, INC’s Public Safety Chair, Merce Moore, confirmed the 2016 Annual INC Safety Expo. Save the date for this successful event on Saturday, September 10, 2016. The location is tentatively scheduled for North High School. This Expo is typically held immediately following the INC Monthly Delegate Meeting. It is also scheduled so that all participants may help honor our first responders, and the sacrifices they make every day, and particularly during the week of September 11. Volunteers are welcome and further plans will be announced as we get closer to the event in autumn.
The next INC Public Safety and Education Committees will be Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Our location is yet to be confirmed. We are grateful to the District 3 DPD for allowing us to meet regularly at their station.
Respectfully Submitted by Meg Schomp
Handout: Criteria for School Zone Flasher Installation
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